The rufous hummingbird was seen for the first time during the 2015 Christmas Bird Count.

Hummingbird spotted in Creston Valley’s 2015 Christmas Bird Count

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Another interesting year! The flocks of birds decided to really test our determination by playing hide and seek more than usual during the Christmas Bird Count. As has been our style in Creston, though, we do not give up easily and go the extra mile to seek our feathered friends.

Although the number of individual birds seen, 7,596, was the fifth lowest in the past 12 years, our species count equalled that of last year and was the second highest recorded during that span of time. A flagship sighting was the hummingbird, the first ever winter sighting of one in the Creston area in recorded history!

As the results below show, the species list was enhanced considerably due to time spent by some participants who pursued elusive birds during the extra days included in “count week”. Although we are not allowed to count the number of birds seen during that extra time, we can count each new species not seen on count day. For example, Bohemian waxwings, a species always seen on count day, were missing Dec. 27 this year. Fifty of them were seen Dec. 26, so we could count them as an additional species but only as one bird.)

As it has been this year, when winter is mild and the birds have the whole valley and lower slopes of the mountains to dine on easy picking delicacies, rather than choosing handouts more often, I think the participants most challenged are those of our feeder watcher group. In my opinion, it is much harder for these participants to see and understand the importance of a single bird because they count in isolation. The individual fielder groups see each other and compare at the end of the day. The feeder group is not privy to that larger picture and, I think it is easier to become discouraged if they see fewer than usual in their back yard. We want and need recorded every bird seen on count day and commend our feeder watchers for persisting and sharing what they have viewed, especially in the lean years of only one or two!

A big thanks to everyone, feeder and fielder. Together we make an awesome team. See you next December!

Sixty-nine species were seen on count day, and nine others during the week for a total of 78. The results were: Snow goose (count week), Canada goose (1,845), Trumpeter Swan (count week), American widgeon (16), mallard (271), bufflehead (6), common goldeneye (17), hooded merganser (4), common merganser (2), ring-necked pheasant (21), ruffed grouse (3), wild turkey (274), pied-billed grebe (count week), great blue heron (10), northern harrier (9), sharp-shinned hawk (1), northern goshawk (1), bald eagle (24), red-tailed hawk (35), rough-legged hawk (55), rock pigeon (feral pigeon) (462), Eurasian collared-dove (193), mourning dove (125), great horned owl (9), snowy owl (1), northern pygmy-owl (4), long-eared owl (count week), rufous hummingbird (unusual species, 1), belted kingfisher (2), downy woodpecker (16), hairy woodpecker (6), American three-toed woodpecker (count week), northern flicker (187), pileated woodpecker (11), American kestrel (10), merlin    (3), northern shrike (5), Steller’s Jay (73), blue jay (22), black-billed magpie (75), American crow (214), common raven (145), black-capped chickadee (458), mountain chickadee (1), chestnut-backed chickadee (55), boreal chickadee (2), red-breasted nuthatch (27), brown creeper (5), Pacific/winter wren (1), American dipper (1), golden-crowned kinglet (26), Townsend’s solitaire (10), American robin (4), varied thrush (1), European starling (746), Bohemian waxwing (count week), cedar waxwing (62), yellow-rumped warbler (count week), American tree sparrow (4), dark-eyed junco (34), slate-coloured junco (34), Oregon junco (128), white-throated sparrow (3), song sparrow (133), spotted towhee (1), red-winged blackbird (308), western meadowlark (2), yellow-headed blackbird (count week), Brewer’s blackbird (1), brown-headed cowbird (count week), gray-crowned rosy finch (unusual species, 25), pine grosbeak (81), house finch (285), Cassin’s finch (2), red crossbill (8), common redpoll (143), pine siskin (179), American goldfinch (267), evening grosbeak (17), house sparrow (384).

—BY SHARON LAUGHLIN